A woman’s first relationship with a man is the one with her father. Her father’s intellect, sense of humor, compassion, confidence and integrity all become the foundation for what she seeks in a partner. She seeks a bond with her dad and the desire to maintain that bond lasts a lifetime. If he was present in her life, then he may have been her initial source of guidance, strength and stability. If he was absent, then she may have deemed him an elusive icon or the standard for all that she wishes to avoid in a future partner.
If her bond was strong with him in childhood and their relationship soured, she may likely develop her coping skills for heartbreak based on that dissolution. Without understanding the true reason for their discord, she may attribute this “failure” to a direct result of her actions (or inaction). Over time, the absence of that father/daughter bond influences her choices in men and her ability to cope with the ebb and flow of a developing relationship.
Women naturally tend to seek companionship and a partner to share their life. Unfortunately, a woman’s feeling of failure may stem from insecurities and provoke self-destructive behavior from an otherwise intelligent, independent and self-assured woman. In casual dating, she can keep her insecurities in check, but if she meets a man that has potential to be “the one,” she becomes more self-aware and cautious. The man of her dreams is hard to come by and therefore, she does not want to lose him. Her “failed” father/daughter bond is her motivation to prevent a future failure with someone she now deems equally relevant to her future. Instead of letting the relationship grow organically, she may focus on avoiding failure. She may slip into behavior and actions she learned in her youth to stay in her father’s good graces.
If she chooses to share this sensitive topic with the man in her life, she may only tell the story and not necessarily how she deals with its effects. All her man has to do is observe how she handles her everyday interactions with all the men she connects with (professional colleagues, platonic friends, acquaintances, friends’ husbands/boyfriends, etc.) and he will gain a better understanding.
If she is mentally and physically healthy, she will seek out and rely on a strong network of friends and mentors to keep a healthy perspective on relationships and an appreciation for the common contradictions between the sexes. However, if she does not tend to foster outside positive male role models to balance out what her failed father/daughter bond cannot fulfill, she may let her insecurities guide her decisions, instead of her heart and mind.
An insecure woman may act out directly to her partner, through her fear of a failed relationship, by becoming needy and desperate. Alternatively, her failed father/daughter bond could harbor a growing resentment towards all men (including those she loves), and she may find comfort by invoking conflict or arguments to justify her anger. Lastly, she could avoid conflict altogether by being overly agreeable, indecisive and keeping the relationship on a superficial level (no controversy equals no risk of failure).
That being said, a more secure and self-aware woman may tend towards coping behavior she learned from this failed bond. However, if the relationship has potential, then there are ways to identify and overcome this potential obstacle.
Having lived with this attitude since childhood, she could be oblivious to its effect on a developing relationship, or she could assume that if her failed relationship goes unresolved, she will feel as if she’s beholden to the pain (a little melodramatic, I know, but remember, she created this feeling in her wildly-dramatic, youthful mind).
A good place to start would be by initiating a candid conversation with her about her entire family, not just dad. Sharing good memories along with the bad helps her to keep things in perspective. She may begin to appreciate that, even if her relationship with her father is estranged or nonexistent, she can assign that disconnect to him as an individual, not a representation of all valued relationships she experiences.
The best “gift” her partner can offer is respect. Respect the importance of this loss to her and don’t reply with cynicism or ridicule. Respect the time it may take her to embrace a new perspective.
This concern does not have to be a deal-breaker. All relationships face challenges, which can be overcome if handled with mutual respect, patience, acceptance and willingness to appreciate our never-ending differences.